Local group raises awareness about sexual violence

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – In hopes to raise awareness about injustices targeting young girls, the Capital Area Latina Youth came together in Lansing today to make sure they know their rights.

Studies show that 66 percent of young girls in prison are of color, and 73 percent of girls in the juvenile justice system have a history of being sexually abused.

“As I would go up there and advocate for a victim, I began to notice that the girls were getting younger and younger, and they started consistently being 10, 12, and this is in Lansing,” said Maria Serrato, the founder of the Capital Area Latina Youth.
  
Serrato says she knows firsthand how the issue of sexual violence and trafficking impacts her community, while she was a sexual assault advocate and first responder at Sparrow.

“It hit close to home for me and it was a reality and I just think it’s something we need to talk about and not, not talk about,” said Serrato.

“There’s no one particular type of victim, so anyone can be a victim of sex trafficking,” said Rebecca Burney, an attorney for Rights 4 Girls, an organization that works to end gender-based violence in the United States.

Burney says educating young girls about harder issues is important.
    
“We found that the more workshops we do, the more education we do, the better it is for young people to know where resources are available and how they can get help if they need it,” said Burney.

Both her and Serrato want people to know it’s okay to talk to your kids about tough topics, to help them or their friends avoid falling victim.
    
“This is who it affects. It affects them,” said Serrato. “Maybe it won’t affect them individually but maybe a peer, one of their school mates and maybe a school mate shares something with them, and this will help them know what they can do with that information and how can they help their friend.”

If you’d like to know more, we’ve posted information about Rights 4 Girls under Seen on 6.

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